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Matt Campbell
Reviewed & driven by

24 Apr 2019

For more than a decade there has been one dual cab ute that people have turned to if they wanted a capable, comfortable and dependable vehicle on a tight budget. 

It’s the Mitsubishi Triton.

For 2019 the Triton has been, facelifted, updated and upgraded with a lot more safety gear, yet it still undercuts some of its main rivals by tens of thousands of dollars. It’s pretty compelling, and should retain that ‘go to’ status for a lot of buyers.

And then there’s the SsangYong Musso. A newcomer to the market, and the only Korean ute sold here, the Musso is in Australia to take a chunk of the affordable ute pie from Mitsubishi - not to mention the Chinese competitors like the LDV T60, Great Wall Steed and Foton Tunland that also play in this part of the market, too.

Yes, we tried to get comparative versions of each of those utes to include in this test, but even after months of trying, it wasn’t possible. Hopefully one day we’ll make it happen. And hey, if you’re wondering what the SsangYong Musso name means, it literally translates to ‘double-dragon rhinoceros’, which basically assures it success, right?

The question is, then - which of these two value-focused work utes should you be buying? Both are priced around $40,000 as tested, and this review we’ll cover off equipment, practicality, safety, ownership and of course, how each handles hard work.

Design

We won’t judge you for disliking one or both of these utes based on how they look.

Personally, I like and dislike elements of both of them. The Triton does the traditional work ute look well despite the divisive front end styling, where the Musso is clearly a different proposition, mainly because of its proportions and smoothed-out lines.

  • The Triton does the traditional work ute look well despite the divisive front end styling. The Triton does the traditional work ute look well despite the divisive front end styling.
  • Over the GLX, the GLX+ gets 16-inch alloy wheels and side steps. Over the GLX, the GLX+ gets 16-inch alloy wheels and side steps.

The Musso is not the basis for an SUV - rather, SsangYong took the Rexton SUV and turned it into a ute. That’s the opposite of most in the segment including the Mitsubishi Triton, which forms the basis of the Pajero Sport

But what it means is that the length of the Musso is smaller than most utes, and it retains the coil spring rear suspension at the back, which is clearly not engineered to deal with a big load like most work utes on the market today.

  • Compared to the Triton, the Musso is clearly a different proposition, mainly because of its proportions and smoothed-out lines. Compared to the Triton, the Musso is clearly a different proposition, mainly because of its proportions and smoothed-out lines.
  • The Musso has roof rails, a sports bar and tub liner. The Musso has roof rails, a sports bar and tub liner.

The Musso’s payload lets this design down most. The total admissible payload for this model is 790 kilograms. That means once you’ve got 70 litres of fuel and a couple of occupants on board, you’ve not got a lot of tray load weight remaining.

Our mates at Crown Lifts in Sydney’s western suburbs helped us out by allowing us to load in a 510kg ballast weight in the rear, when we’d usually go for the 750kg weight. Even then, the Musso drooped like crazy. We should stress that the long-wheelbase Musso XLV is coming, and not only does it have a a longer tray, it will also get the option of coil or leaf spring suspension. It will undoubtedly be a better fit for a lot of workers.

With 510kg ballast weight in the rear, the suspension dropped noticeably. With 510kg ballast weight in the rear, the suspension dropped noticeably.

The Triton, on the other hand, has the leaf spring rear suspension setup that gives it both a higher payload (951kg in this spec) but also a higher load-in height and a shallower tub. More on that below. 

With the same weight, the Triton with its leaf spring rear suspension handled the load better. With the same weight, the Triton with its leaf spring rear suspension handled the load better.

The Triton has the ‘traditional’ pick-up proportions nailed. Can its interior design live up to it? We’ll let you make up your own mind by checking the interior images below. 

 Score
Mitsubishi Triton GLX+8
SsangYong Musso Ultimate7

Practicality

It depends what you prioritise. 

If you value a lot of interior space and a more upmarket experience, you really ought to buy the SsangYongIf cargo space and hard-wearing cabin materials matter more to you, the Mitsubishi is the go.

  • The cabin space of the Musso could be the best in the class. The cabin space of the Musso could be the best in the class.
  • There's plenty of space on offer for rear passengers. There's plenty of space on offer for rear passengers.
  • Unlike the Triton, the Musso offers rear-seat air vents. Unlike the Triton, the Musso offers rear-seat air vents.

The cabin space of the Musso could be the best in the class, with lots of width, plenty of second-row space for adults, and a really upmarket feel to the cabin thanks to leather, a sunroof and a number of creature comforts unseen elsewhere in the segment. But it’s not all rosy - there’s a lap only centre rear seatbelt, which is deplorable by today’s standards.

The Triton is more compact inside, with a narrower, smaller space for second row occupants, but it’s still fine for adults back there provided you’re not driving for hours on end.

  • Inside, the Triton has a lot of hard-wearing materials. Inside, the Triton has a lot of hard-wearing materials.
  • The interior of the Triton is more compacted, offering less space for second row occupants. The interior of the Triton is more compacted, offering less space for second row occupants.

Both models have the requisite cup-holders front and rear, bottle holders in the doors and map pockets on the seat backs, as well as fold-down centre arm-rests in the back seat with cup-holders hidden away. The Musso has rear-seat air vents, but the Mitsubishi doesn’t (though it does have Arctic air-conditioning!).

In terms of dimensions, there is a vast difference between these two. And those differences are noticeable in the tub areas, too.

The Mitsubishi is long and narrow, measuring 5305mm from nose to tail (on a 3000mm wheelbase), 1815mm wide and 1780mm tall. The tub dimensions of the Triton are 1520mm long, 1470mm wide (1085mm between wheel arches) and 475mm deep. There are six tie down points in the tub.

  • This model Triton misses out on a tub-liner. This model Triton misses out on a tub-liner.
  • The Musso's tray measures in at 1300mm long, 1570mm wide and 570mm deep. The Musso's tray measures in at 1300mm long, 1570mm wide and 570mm deep.

The Musso is squat, spanning 5095mm long (3100mm wheelbase), 1950mm wide and 1840mm tall. Its tray dimensions are stumpy, too - at 1300mm long, 1570mm wide (1175mm between the wheel arches) and 570mm deep. It mightn’t be as capacious overall, but it has a lower load-in height, and in this spec comes with a tub-liner to protect the tray and six tie down points. Again, the XLV model will be a better fit for many customers, with a 1600mm tray length bound to put some long-loaders’ minds at ease. 

We’re calling this section a dead heat.

 Score
Mitsubishi Triton GLX+8
SsangYong Musso Ultimate8

Value

The two models we have are the Mitsubishi Triton GLX+ and the SsangYong Musso Ultimate - both of which take different approaches to offering ute buyers big value for not much money.

The Triton GLX+ dual cab 4x4 auto model has a list price of $42,490 drive-away, making it considerably better value than a Ford Ranger or Toyota HiLux of equivalent spec.

But the Musso Ultimate is even more affordable, at $39,990 drive-away, and it offers plenty of niceties that utes in the sixty-grand range can’t match. Things like enormous 20-inch wheels, a sports bar, HID headlights and LED daytime running lights all set it apart from the Mitsubishi. 

  • Up front are HID headlights and LED daytime running lights. Up front are HID headlights and LED daytime running lights.
  • The Ultimate model scores 20-inch alloy wheels. The Ultimate model scores 20-inch alloy wheels.
  • Inside, there's a sunroof. Inside, there's a sunroof.
  • The Musso has a positively plush cabin, with leather seat trim. The Musso has a positively plush cabin, with leather seat trim.

And inside there’s a positively plush cabin, with leather seat trim (not cloth), carpet on the floor (as opposed to plastic), electric front seats with heating and cooling, a leather steering wheel (as opposed to plastic) and a sunroof all tell you this is a more luxury focused rig than its competitor.

The Triton is considerably more work-oriented in this spec - the GLX+ is the second-cheapest dual cab model 4x4 diesel auto model you can get in the Triton range. That ‘plus’ part of the name denotes the fact you get a few more features inside and out.

Compared with the GLX model that sits below it, there are some niceties added - things like 16-inch alloy wheels, side steps, halogen fog-lights, a 7.0-inch media screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a six speaker stereo, two USB ports, a HDMI plug and a leather-bound handbrake.

  • Up front are a pair of halogen fog-lights. Up front are a pair of halogen fog-lights.
  • The GLX+ wears 16-inch alloy wheels. The GLX+ wears 16-inch alloy wheels.
  • The 7.0-inch multimedia screen is equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The 7.0-inch multimedia screen is equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
  • Inside, there are two USB ports and a HDMI plug. Inside, there are two USB ports and a HDMI plug.

Both have auto headlights, auto wipers, daytime running lights (halogen on the Mitsubishi, LED on SsangYong) and an auto-dimming rearview mirror plus cruise control and climate control air conditioning (single zone in both cases). 

It’s interesting to look at these two and see that there are roof rails and a sports bar for the SsangYong, plus a tub liner as standard too. But the Triton gets those handy side steps, a rear step bumper, and the harder-wearing interior finishes that could make all the difference to you.

SsangYong also can’t match the accessories offered by Mitsubishi just yet - at the time of writing the latter has a list of accessories that includes: a plastic hard cover for the tub, and soft tonneau cover, bull bar, nudge bar and more. These bits and pieces are still to come from Korean HQ for the Musso, but they will come.

 Score
Mitsubishi Triton GLX+8
SsangYong Musso Ultimate9

Engine and transmission

What’s powering these utes? Both have turbo-diesel four-cylinder engines, and there’s not a whole lot in it in terms of engine specs.

The Musso runs a 2.2-litre engine, while the Triton has a 2.4-litre, and the pair are identical for power outputs, while the Triton has a slight torque advantage.

The official outputs for the Triton GLX+ are 133kW of power at 3500rpm, and 430Nm of torque at 2500rpm. 

  • The Triton's 2.4-litre diesel packs 133kW/430Nm. The Triton's 2.4-litre diesel packs 133kW/430Nm.
  • The Musso's 2.2-litre diesel makes 133kW/400Nm. The Musso's 2.2-litre diesel makes 133kW/400Nm.

The outputs for the Musso Ultimate are 133kW of power at 4000rpm, and 400Nm of torque from 1400-2800rpm. 

As tested, both models have a six-speed automatic transmission (you can get a manual gearbox if you want one, but you’ll have to go for the base model Musso), and both have selectable four-wheel drive in the specs we have here.

 Score
Mitsubishi Triton GLX+8
SsangYong Musso Ultimate7

Fuel use

The claimed fuel consumption for these two is close. Most 4WD dual cab auto utes with four-cylinder engines are around the same area for claimed consumption, after all.

Indeed, both of these models have exactly the same claimed combined cycle fuel consumption in 4x4 auto spec - 8.6 litres per 100 kilometres

In the real world, we saw a slight difference between these two - the Musso was about 6.5 per cent thirstier than the Triton, and neither was close to their claimed consumption when we loaded them up (13.7L/100km for the Triton and 14.5L/100km for the Musso). In regular driving, the consumption was better, but still over the claim (10.6L/100km for the Triton and 11.1L/100km for the Musso).

 Score
Mitsubishi Triton GLX+7
SsangYong Musso Ultimate6

Driving

These two are hardly corner carvers, but there are some stark dynamic differences between them.

The Triton feels a more work-ready, rough-and-tumble truck, with heavier steering that can be a little bit numb at lower speeds, and a ride that is quite firm when the tray is unladen.

With weight in the back the suspension copes a fair bit better, offering up less jostle over bumpy sections and a more compliant ride, too. The steering is barely affected by additional weight.

The Triton’s engine is strong in all situations. Acceleration from a standstill does take a tick, as there’s a bit of low-rev lag to contend with, but the grunt on offer is good.

  • With 510kg in the tub, the Triton’s nose rose by less than one per cent, and its rear drooped by just five per cent. With 510kg in the tub, the Triton’s nose rose by less than one per cent, and its rear drooped by just five per cent.
  • The Triton’s engine is strong in all situations. The Triton’s engine is strong in all situations.
  • Compared to the Musso, the Triton felt better with the weight on board. Compared to the Musso, the Triton felt better with the weight on board.

It is a bit louder than the Musso - road, wind and tyre noise are all more noticeable, and the engine noise can be annoying if you’re doing a lot of slow speed crawling. The engine offers up quite a lot of vibration at idle, too.

But that said, the powertrain is smart - the six-speed auto holds gears smartly when there’s weight on board, and it doesn’t prioritise grabbing a higher gear to save fuel over general drivability in normal, unladen motoring, too. 

We measured the amount of sag at the rear and lift at the front that these utes experienced with the 510kg weight load in the tubs, and the figures confirmed what the pictures suggested. The Musso’s front end lifted by about one per cent, but its tail dropped by 10 per cent, while the Triton’s nose rose by less than one per cent, and its rear drooped by just five per cent.

  • SsangYong plans to introduce Australian suspension tunes for the Musso and Musso XLV. SsangYong plans to introduce Australian suspension tunes for the Musso and Musso XLV.
  • The Musso is let down by its 20-inch wheels and low-profile tyres. The Musso is let down by its 20-inch wheels and low-profile tyres.
  • With 510kg in the back, the Musso’s tail dropped by 10 per cent. With 510kg in the back, the Musso’s tail dropped by 10 per cent.

The Triton felt better with the weight on board, but the SsangYong sure didn’t. 

The Musso is let down by its 20-inch wheels and low-profile tyres, which create an unsettled and fidgety ride whether you’ve got a load in the tray or not. The suspension actually does a decent job of keeping things under control in most situations, though it can feel a bit wobbly because there isn’t the inherent stiffness you get from leaf spring rear suspension.

SsangYong will apparently be introducing an Australian suspension tune for the Musso and Musso XLV at some point, and I personally can’t wait to see if the leaf spring model has a better level of compliance and control. 

The Musso is armed with four-wheel discs. The Musso is armed with four-wheel discs.

There was an effect on the Musso’s steering, which became even lighter at the nose than usual - and it’s generally easy to turn but still nicely accurate at lower speeds, while at higher pace it can be a little hard to judge, particularly on centre.

Its engine offers a slightly more usable power band, with a thick vane of torque available from lower revs than the Triton. But the six-speed automatic transmission is eager to upshift, and that can mean that the powertrain is constantly trying to decide what gear it wants to be in - particularly when there’s a load in the tub. 

One thing that was better by some margin in the Musso was its braking - it has four-wheel discs, where the Triton persists with drums, and there was a discernible improvement with and without the weight on board in the Musso. 

The Triton feels like a work-ready, rough-and-tumble truck. The Triton feels like a work-ready, rough-and-tumble truck.

There was no chance to do a towing review for these utes - the Ssangyong wasn’t fitted with a towbar. But according to their manufacturers, both offer the class standard 3.5 tonne braked towing capacity (750kg unbraked). 

And while they are four-wheel drives, our aim was to see what these utes were like around town first and foremost. Check out our site for more detailed individual reviews - including 4WD off road review components - on each of them.

 Score
Mitsubishi Triton GLX+8
SsangYong Musso Ultimate6

Safety

There’s quite a bit separating these two vehicles on the safety front. But there are also plenty of similarities.

The Mitsubishi Triton retains the same five-star ANCAP safety rating based on crash test scores awarded to it way back in 2014. The Musso does not have an ANCAP or Euro NCAP score because it has not been tested.

The Triton comes with seven airbags (dual front, front side, full-length curtain and driver’s knee), where the Musso misses out on knee protection for the driver, meaning a count of six.

Both these utes come with forward collision warning (FCW) with auto emergency braking (AEB), which is excellent.

Separating them is the rest of their tech - the Mitsubishi has lane departure warning, but the SsangYong doesn’t. However, the Musso Ultimate has blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and a 360-degree surround-view camera - the Triton doesn’t get any of that stuff in this grade. The GLX+ Triton has a reversing camera and rear parking sensors, but the Musso gets front and rear parking sensors.

  • The Triton's has a reversing camera with rear parking sensors. The Triton's has a reversing camera with rear parking sensors.
  • The Musso also has a reversing camera and a 360-degree surround-view camera. The Musso also has a reversing camera and a 360-degree surround-view camera.

Sadly though, the Musso has one big, big shortfall - a lap only centre seat belt. It’s 2019, for goodness sake! That’s enough to pin it back by a point in this section. 

Both have dual ISOFIX child seat anchor points, and three top-tether points, too. 

 Score
Mitsubishi Triton GLX+8
SsangYong Musso Ultimate8

Ownership

SsangYong owns its competitors when it comes to ownership.

No other ute in the segment (at the time of writing) offers the same level of ownership promise the Korean brand does.

It has a seven-year unlimited kilometre warranty, a seven-year capped price servicing plan with intervals every 12 months/15,000km, and the same period of cover for roadside assist.

The capped cost per service is set at $375 per visit, before consumables. The company offers unrivalled clarity about the potential additional costs you may encounter, too. 

The Mitsubishi Triton 2019 range was launched with a seven year/150,000km warranty plan, but it only has three years of capped price servicing with roadside assist for up to four years. The maintenance intervals are also every 12 months/15,000km, with the costs pegged at $299 for the first three visits - but what happens after that…?

 Score
Mitsubishi Triton GLX+8
SsangYong Musso Ultimate9

Verdict

These two utes will ultimately appeal to very different buyers.

In fact, the SsangYong Musso Ultimate is almost like a lifestyle vehicle rather than a work truck, and the company even calls it an “open SUV” in its home market. It actually feels like that - more focused on day to day duties like dropping the kids to school and cruising the highway than doing the hard yards around the work site. We can’t wait to see if the Musso XLV is a better fit for heavy duty hauling when it arrives later in 2019. 

But that just reinforces the position the Mitsubishi Triton has held for so long. In GLX+ grade, we think it’s a terrific option for people who need a vehicle that can deal with the drudgery of the daily grind, and double as a dual purpose runaround for the family when required.

There is even better ‘lifestyle’ appeal in models further up the Triton tree, but the GLX+ does enough to win this test. 

 Score
Mitsubishi Triton GLX+7.9
SsangYong Musso Ultimate7.5


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